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Presidential Debate

Series/Special. Jim Lehrer. (2012) The presidential candidates' discussion of issues takes place at the University of Denver; Jim Lehrer moderates; analysis follows. New.

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Us 27, Massachusetts 13, Obama 7, Donald Trump 6, Denver 5, Ronald Reagan 5, Pbs 4, Bill Clinton 4, United States 3, China 3, Spain 3, Scott Horsily 3, Obamacare 3, Ari Shapiro 2, Virginia 2, Romney 2, Wisconsin 2, Cleveland 2, The Economy 2, Abraham Lincoln 2,
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  PBS    Presidential Debate    Series/Special. Jim Lehrer.  (2012) The presidential  
   candidates' discussion of issues takes place at the University of...  

    October 3, 2012
    6:00 - 8:00pm PDT  

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> the following is a pbs election event. funding for this program was provided by: >> ifill: good evening, and welcome to special pbs "newshour" coverage of the first presidential debate between president barack obama and former governor mitt romney. i'm again ifil. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. tonight's debate will be moderated by our own jim leerer and will start a little over a minute from now, from the magness arena. >> after the debate we'll talked
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to arrow shapiro and scott horsily in denver, and christina bellantony. >> woodruff: you can follow along online on our live stream and live plog. two very quick thoughts from mark and david. mark, it come downs to this. >> in a rare race it's become increasingly a referendum on the challenger rather than the incumbent. can the challenger mitt romney make this a referendum on the president. >> who has the toughest job? >> romney. maybe jim lehrer. format i love. much more demanding on jim but better for us. >> ifill: we're looking forward to what jim has to say tonight. it's a big night and we'll go to the convention hall and hoar from our own jim lehrer. >> lehrer: good evening, from the ma nag mess arena in colora. i welcome you to the first of the 2012 presidential debates between president barack obama, the democratic nominee, and former massachusetts governor,
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mitt romney, the republican. nominee. this debate and the next three, two presidential, one vice presidential, are sponsored by the commission on presidential debates. tonight's 90 minutes will be about domestic issues and will follow a format designed by the commission. there will be six roughly 15-minute segments with two-minute answers for the first question, then open discussion for the remainder of each segment. thousands of people offered suggestions on segment subjects or questions have a the internet and other means, but i made the final selections, and for the record, they were not submitted for approval to the commission or the candidates. the segments, as i announced in advance, will be three on the economy and e each on health care, the role of government, and governing with an emphasis
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throughout on differences, specifics, and choices. both candidates will also have two-minute closing statements. the audience here in the hall has promised to remain silent. no cheers, applause, boos, hisses, among other noisy, distracting things, so we may all concentrate on what the candidates have to say. there is a noise exception right now, though, as we welcome president obama and governor romney. ( applause ) >> jim.
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>> lehrer: gentlemen, welcome to you both. let's start with the economy, segment one, and let's begin with jobs. what are the major differences between the two of you about how you would go about creating new jobs? you have two minutes, each of you have two minutes to start. a coin toss is determined, mr. president, you go first. >> well, thank you very much, jim, for this opportunity. i want to thank governor romney and the university of denver for your hospitality. there are a lot of points i want to make tonight but the most important one is that 20 years ago, i became the luckiest man on earth because michelle obama agreed to marry me, and so i just want to wish, sweetie, you happy anniversary, and let you know that a year from now, we will not be celebrating it in front of 40 million people. four years ago, we went through the worst financial crisis since the great depression.
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millions of jobs remember lost. the auto industry was on the brink of collapse, the financial system had frozen up. and because of the resilience and the determination of the american people, we've begun to fight our way back. over the last 30 months, we've seen five million jobs in the private sector created. the auto industry has come roaring back. and housing has begun to rise. but we all know that we've still got a lot of work to do. and so the question here tonight is not where we've been but where we're going. governor romney has a perspective that says if we cut taxes skewed towards the wealthy and roll back regulations, that we'll be better off. i've got a different view. i think we've got to invest in education and training. i think it's important for us to develop new source of energy here in america. that we change our tax code to make sure that we're helping small business and companies that where investing here in the
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united states. that we take some of the money we're saving as we weend down two wars to rebuild america. and that we reduce our deficit in a balanced way that allows us to make these critical investments. now, it ultimately going to be up to the voters, to you, which path we should take. are we going to double down on the top-down economic policies that helped to get us into this mess, or do we embrace a new economic patriotism that says america does best when the middle class does best, and i'm looking forward to having that debate. >> lehrer: governor romney, two minutes. >> thank you, jim. it's an honor to be here with you, and i appreciate the chance to be with the president. i'm pleased to be at the university of denver, appreciate their welcome, and also the presidential commission on these debates. and congratulations to you, mr. president, on your anniversary. i'm sure this was the most romantic place you could imagine here with me. ( laughter ). congratulations. this is, obviously, a very tender topic. i've had the occasion over the last couple of years of meeting
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people across the country. i was in dayton, ohio, and a woman grabbed my arm, and she said, "i've been out of work since may. you can help me?" anne yesterday was at a rally in denver and a woman came up to her with a baby in her arms and said, "anne, my husband has had four jobs in three years, part-time jobs. he's lost his most recent job. and we've now just lost our home. can you help us?" and the answer is yes, we can help, but it's going to take a different path, not the one we've been on, not the one the president describeses a top-down cut taxes for the rich. that's not what i'm going to do. my plan has five basic parts one, get us energy independent, north america energy independent. that creates about four million jobs. open up more trade, particularly in the lain america, crack down on china, if and when they cheat. number three, make sure our people have the skills they need to succeed, and the best schools in the world. we're far away from that now. number 4, get us to a balanced
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budget. number five, champion small business. it's small business that creates the jobs in america, and over the last four years, small business people have decided that america may not be the place to open a new business because new business start-ups are down to a 30-year low. i know what it takes to get small business growing again, to hire people. now, i'm concerned that the path we're on has just been unsuccessful. the president has a view very similar to the view he had when he ran four years ago, that a bigger government, spending more, taxing more, regulating more, if you will, trickle-down government would work. that's not the right answer for america. i'll restore the vitality that gets america working again. thank you. >> lehrer: mr. president, please respond directly to what the governor just said about trickle down. his trickle-down approach as he said yours is. >> well, let me talk specifically about what i think we need to do. first, we've got to improve our education system.
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and we've made enormous progress drawing on ideas from both democrats and republicans that are already starting to show gains? some of the toughest-to-deal with schools. we have a program called race to the top that has prompt reforms in 46 states around the country, raising standards, improving how we train teachers, so now i want to hire another 100,000 new math and science teachers, and create two million more slots in our community colleges so that people can get trained for the jobs that are out there right now. and i want to make sure that we keep tuition low for our young people. when it comes to our tax code, governor romney and i both agree that our corporate tax rate is too high. so i want to lower it, particularly for manufacturing, taking it down to 25%. but i also want to close those loopholes that are giving incentives for companies that are shipping jobs overseas. i want to provide tax breaks for companies that are investing here in the united states.
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on energy, governor romney and i both agree that we've got to boost american energy production, and oil and natural gas production are higher than they've been in years. but i also believe that we've got to look at the energy sources of the future, like wind and solar and biofuels, and make those ininvestments. so all of this is possible. now, in order for us to do it, we do have to close our deficit, and one of the things i'm sure we'll be discussing tonight is how do we deal with our tax code and how do we make sure that we are reducing spending in a responsible way but also how do we have enough revenue to make those investments. and this is where there's a difference because governor romney's central economic plan calls fair $5 trillion tax cut, on top of the extension of the bush tax cuts, that's another $trillion, and $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn't asked for. that's $8 trillion, how we pay for that, reduce the deficit, and make the investments we need to make without dumping those
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costs on to middle-class americans i think is one of the central questions of this campaign. >> lehrer: both of you have spoken about a lot of different things. we're going to try to get through them in as specific as way as we possibly can, but first, governor romney, do you have a question you'd like to ask the president directly about something he just said? >> sure, i'd like to clear up the exproard go through piece by piece. i don't have a $5 trillion tax cut. i don't have a tax cut of the scale you're talking about. my view is we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class, but i'm not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people. they're doing just fine in this economy. they'll do fine whether you're president or i am. the people having the hard time right now are middle-income americans. under the president's policies middle-income americans very buried. they're being crush crushed. middle-income americans have seen their income come down by $4,300. this is a tax in and of itself. i'll call it the economy tax.
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it's been crushing. at the same time the gasoline prices have doubled under the president, electric rates are up, food prices are up, health care costs have gone up by $2500 a family, middle-income families being crushed, and so the question is how to get them going again, and i've described it. it's energy and trade, the right kind of training programs, balance, our budget and helping small business. those are the cornered stones of my plan. the president mentioned a couple other ideas i'll just note. first, education. i agree, education is key, particularly the future of our economy, but our training programs right flow we've got 47 of them housed in the federal government reporting to eight different agency. overhead is overwhelming. we've got to get the dollars back to the state and go to the workers to create their own pathways to train for the jobs that will really help them. the second area, taxation. we agree, we ought to bring the tax rates down, and i do both for corporation corporations anr individuals. but in order for not to lose revenue and have the government run out of money i lower
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deductions and credits and exempt yons so we keep taking in the same money when you also account for growth. the third area, energy, energy is critical and the president pointed out correctly that production of oil and gas in the u.s. is up. but not due to his policies. in spite of his policies. mr. president, all of the increase in natual gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land. on government land, your administration has cut the number of permits and licenses in half. if i'm president, i'll double them. and also get the oil from offshore and alaska and bring that pipeline in from canada. and by the way, i like coal. i'm gog make sure we can continue to burn clean coal. people in the coal industry feel like it's getting crushed by your policies. i want to get america and north america energy independent so we can create those jobs. and finally, with regards to that tax cut, look, i'm not looking to cut massive taxes and to reduce the revenues going to the government.
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my-- my number one principle is there lawyer no tax cut that adds to the deficit. i want to underline that-- no tax cut that adds to the deficit. but i do want to reduce the burden being paid by middle-income americans, and to do that, that also means i cannot reduce the burden paid by high-income americans. so any language to the contrary is simply not accurate. >> lehrer: mr. president. >> i think, let's talk about taxes because i think it's instructive. now, four years ago, when i stood on this stage, i said that i would cut taxes for middle-class families. and that's exactly what i did. we cut taxes for middle-class families by about $3600. and the reason is because i believe that we do best when the middle class is doing well. and by giving them those tax cuts, they have a little more money in their pocket, and maybe they can buy a new car. they are certainly in a better position to weather the
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extraordinary recession that we went through, maybe buy a computer for their kid who is going off to college, which means they're spending more money, businesses have more customers, make more profits and hire more workers. now, governor romney's proposal that he's been promoting for 18 months calls for a $5 trillion tax cut on tom of $2 trillion additional spending for our military and he is saying he is going to pay for it by closing loopholes and deductions. the problems is he's been asked over 100 times how you would close those deductions and loopholes and he hasn't been able to identify them but i'm going to make an important point here, jim. when you add up all the loopholes and deductions that upper income individuals can-- are currently taking advantage of, you take those all away, you don't come close to paying for $5 trillion in tax cuts and $2 trillion in additional military spending and that's why independent studies looking at this said the only way to meet
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governor romney's pledge of not reducing the deficit-- or not adding to the deficit is by burdening middle-class family, the average middle-class family with children would pay about $2,000 more. that's not my analysis. that's the analysis of economists who have looked at this. and that kind of top-down economics where the folks at the top are dook well and folks making $3 million bucks is getting a $250,000 tax break while middle income families are burdened further, that's not a recipe for economic growth. >> lehrer: let's stay on taxes for a moment. >> virtually everything he said about my tax plan is inaccurate. >> lehrer: all right. >> if a tax plan described was a tax plan i'd support i would say absolutely not. i said i won't put in place a tax cut that adds to the
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deficit. that's part one. there's no economist can say mitt romney's tax plan adds $5 trillion if i say i will not add to the deficit with my tax plan. number two, i will not reduce the share paid by high-income individuals. i know that you and your running mate keep saying that, and i know it's a popular thing to say with a lot of people, but it's just not the case. look, i've got five boys. i'm used to people saying something that's not always true but just keep on repeatin repead and ultimately hoping i'll believe it. that is not case. i will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income americans. and number three, i will not under any circumstances raise taxes on middle-income families. i will lower taxes on middle-income taxes. you cite a study and there are six other studies that looked at that study that said it's completely wrong. i looked at a study that said you're going to raise taxes by $3 until on middle-income families. i want to bring down rates.
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bring the rates down, and at the same time lower deductions and credits and so forth so we keep getting the revenue we need. and you think, why lower the rates? and the reason is because small business pays that individual rate. 54% of america's workers work in businesses that are taxed not at the corporate tax rate but at the individual tax rate, and if we lower that rate, they will be able to hire more people. for me, this is about jobs. this is about getting jobs for the american people. >> lehrer: yeah, do you challenge what the governor just said about his own plan? >> well, for 18 months he's been running on this tax plan. and now, five weeks before the election, he's saying that his big bold idea is never mind. and the fact is that if you are lowering the rates the way you describe, governor, then it is not possible to come up with enough deductions and loopholes that only affect high-income
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individuals to avoid either raising the deficit or burdening the middle class. it's math. it's arithmetic. now, governor romney and i do share a deep interest in encouraging small business growth, so at the same time that my tax plan has already lowered taxes for 98% of families, i also lowered taxes for small businesses 18 times. and what i want to do is continue the tax rates, the tax cuts we put into place for small business and families. but i have said for incomes over $250,000 a year, that we should go back to the rates that we had when bill clinton was president, when we created 23 million new jobs, went from deficit to surplus, and created a whole lot of millionaires to boot. the reason this is important is because by doing that we can not only reduce the deficit, we can not only encourage job growth
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through small businesses but we're also able to make the investments necessary in education or in energy. and we do have a difference, though, when it comes to definitions of small business. under my plan, 97% of small businesses would not see their income taxes go up. governor romney says well those top 3%, they're the job creators. they'd be burdened. but under governor romney's definition, there are a whole bunch of millionaires and billionaires who are small businesses. donald trump say small business. and i know donald trump doesn't like to think of himselfs as small anything, but that's how you define small businesses if you're getting business income. and that kind of approach i believe will not grow our economy because the only way to pay for it without either burdening the middle class or blowing up our deficit is to make drastic cuts in things like education, making sure that we are continuing to invest in
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basic science and research, all the things that are helping america grow. and i think that would be a mistake. >> lehrer: all right-- >> jim, let me just come back on that point. >> lehrer: just for the record-- >> the small businesses we're talking about. >> lehrer: so everybody understands, we're way over our first 15 minutes. >> it's fun, isn't it. >> lehrer: graer, as long as you don't have a problem, i don't have a problem. we're going to come back to taxes and move on to the deficit and a lot of other things, too. go ahead, sir. >> you bet. mr. president, you're absolutely right which is with regard to 97% of businesses not taxed at the 35% tax rate. they're taxed at a lower rate. but those business in the last 3% of businesses happen to employ half, half of all the people who work in small business. those are the businesses that employ one-quarter of all the workers in america. and your plan is to take their tax rate from 35% to 40%. i talked to a guy who has a very small business.
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he's in the electronics business in st. louis. he has four employees. he said he and his son calculated how much they pay in taxes. federal income tax, federal payroll tax, state income tax, state sales tax, state property tax, gasoline tax tadd up to well over 50% of what they earned. and your plan is to take the tax rate on successful small businesses from 35% to 40%. the national federation of independent businesses has said that will cost 700,000 jobs. i don't want to cost jobs. my priority is jobs. and so what i do is i bring down the tax rates, lower deductions and exemptions, the same idea behind bowles-simpson, get the rate down, lower deductions and exemptions to create more jobs because there's nothing better getting us to a balanced budget than having more people working, earning more money, paying more taxes, that's by far the most effective and efficient way to
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get this budget balanced. >> jim you may want to move on to another topic but i would like to say this to the american people, if you believe we can cut taxes by $5 trillion and add $2 trillion in additional spending that the military is not asking for, $7 trillion, just to give you a sense over 10 years, that's more than our entire defense budget, and you think that by closing loopholes and deductions for the well to-do, somehow you will not end up picking up the tab, then, governor romney's plan may work for you you. but i think math, common sense, and our history shows us that's not a recipe for job growth. look, we've tried this-- we've tried both approaches. the approach that governor romney is talking about is the same sales pitch that was made in 2001 and 2003. and we ended up with the slowest job growth in 50 years. we ended up moving from surplus
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to deficits. and it all culminated in the worst financial crise since the great depression. bill clinton tried the approach that i'm talking about. we created 23 million new jobs. we went from deficit to surplus, and businesses did very well. so in some ways, we've got some data on which approach is more likely to create jobs and opportunity for americans and i believe that the economy works best when middle-class families are getting tax breaks so that they've got some money in their pockets, and those of us who have done extraordinarily well because of this magnificent country that we live in, that we can afford to do a little bit more to make sure we're not blowing up the deficit. >> jim, the president began this segment, so i think i get the last word, so i'm going to take it. >> lehrer: you're going to get the first word in this segment. >> let me just make this comment-- let me repeat what i said. i'm not in favor of a $5
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trillion tax cut. that's not my plan. my plan is not to put in place any tax cut that will add to the deficit. that's point one. so you may keep referring to it as a capitol hill 5 trillion tux cut but that's not my hand. number two, let's look at history. my plan is not like anything that's be tried before. my plan is to bring down rates but also bring down deductions and exempt jobs and credits at the same time so the revenue stays in but that we bring down rates to get more people working. my priority is putting people back to worth in america. they're suffering in this country. and we talk about evidence. look at the evidence of the last four years. it's absolutely extraordinary. we've got 23 million people out of work. or stopped looking forwork in this country gleefer all right. >> when the president took office, 32 million people on food stamps, 47 million on food stamps today. economic growth this year, slower than last year. and last year slower than the year before. going forward with the status quo is not going to cut it for
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the american people who are struggling today. >> lehrer: all right, let's talk-- we're still on the economy. this is theoretically now, a second segment, still on the economy. and specifically on what to do about the federal deficit, the federal debt. and the question-- you each have two minute on this, and governor romney, you go first, because the president went first on segment one. and the question is this-- what are the differences between the two of you as to how you would go about tackling the deficit problem in this country? >> good, i'm glad you raised that. it's a critical issue. i think it's not just an economic issue. i think it's a moral issue. i think it's, frankly, not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in, knowing those burdens are going to be passed on to the next generation. and they're going to be paying the interest and the principal all their lives, and the amount of debt we're adding at $1 trillion a year is simply not moral. so how do we deal with it?
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mathematically, there are three ways you can cut a deficit. one, of course, is to raise taxes. number two is to cut spending, and number three is to grow the economy. because if more people work in a growing economy, they're paying taxes and you can get the job done that way. the president would prefer raising taxes. i understand. the problem with raisingsing taxes it slows downtown rate of growth and you can never quite get the job done. i want to lower spendin spendind encourage economic growth at the same time. what things would i cut from spending? first of all, i will eliminate all programs by this test if they don't pass it. is the program so critical it's worth borrowing money from china to pay for it. i'll get rid of it balmcare is on my list, with all due respect. i'm sorry, jim, i'm going to stop the subsidy to pbs. i'm going to stop other things. i like pbs. i like big bird, and i like you, too, but i'm not going to keep spending money on things to
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borrow from china to pay for it. that's number one. number two, i'll take programs s that are currently good programbut will be run more efficiently at the state level. number three, i'll make government more efficient and cut ck the number of employees, cut agencies into departments. my cutbacks would be done through attrition, by the way. this is the approach we have to take to get america to a balanced budget. the president said he'd cut the deficit in hamp. unfortunately, he doubled it. trillion-dollar deficits for the last four years. the president's put in place as much public debt, almost as much debt held by the public as all prior presidents combined. >> lehrer: mr. president, two minutes. >> when i walked in the oval office i had more than a $1 trillion deficit greeting me, and we know where it came from. two wars that were paid for on a credit card. two tax cuts that were not paid fo. and a whole bunch of programs that were not paid for. and then a massive economic
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crise. and despite that, what we've said is, yes, we had to take some initial emergency measures to make sure we didn't slip into a great depression, but what we've also said is let's make sure that we are cutting out those things that are not helping us grow. so, 77 government programs, everything from aircrafts that the air force had ordered but weren't working very well. 18 government-- 18 government programs for education that were well intentioned but weren't helping kids learn. we went after medical fraud in medicare and medicaid, very aggressively, more aggressively than ever before. and it saved tens of billions of dollars. $50 billion of waste taken out of the system. and i worked with democrats and republicans to cut $1 trillion out of our discretionary domestic budget. that's the largest cut in the discretionary domestic budget since dwight eisenhower. now, we all know that we've got to do more. and so i put forward a specific
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$4 trillion deficit-reduction plan. it's on the web site. you can look at all the numbers. what cuts we make. and what revenue we raise. and the way we do it is $2.50 for every cut we ask for $1 of additional revenue, paid for, as i indicated earlier, by asking those of us who have done very well in this country to contribute a little bit popular to reduce the deficit. governor romney earlier mentioned the bowles-simpson commission. well, that's how the commission, bipartisan commission that talked about how we should move forward suggested we have to do it, in a balanced way with some revenue, and some spending cuts. and this is a major difference that governor romney and i have. let me just finish this point because you're looking for contrast. when governor romney stood on a stage with other republican candidates for the nomination, and he was asked, "would you take $10 of spending cuts for
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just $1 of revenue?" and he said no. now, if you take such an unbalanced approach, then that ans you are going to be gutting our investments in schools and education. it means that governor romney talked about medicaid and how we could send it back to the states but effectively this means a 30% cut in the primary program we have for seniors in nursing homes, kids with disabilities. >> lehrer: mr. president, i'm sorry. >> and that is not a right strategy for us to move forward. >> lehrer: way over the two minutes. >> sorry. >> lehrer: governor, what about simpson-bowles, will you support that? >> the president should have grabbed that. >> lehrer: do you support simpson-bowles? >> i have my own plan. it's not the same. in my view, the president should have grabbed it, if he wanted to make adjustments, take it, go to think and fight for it. that's what we've done. we're putting it before congress right now. >> you've within president four years. you said you'd cut the deficit
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in half, it's four years later. the c.b.o. says we'll have a trillion-dollar deficit each of the next four years. if you're elected we'll get to a trillion-dollar set. you said before you would cut the deficit in half. y love the idea of 4 trillion in cuts. you found 4 trillion except we still show trillion-dollar deficits every year. that doesn't get the job done. let me come back and say why is that i don't want to raise taxes? why don't i want to raise taxes on people? and actually, you said it back in 2010. you said i'm going to extend the tax policies that we have. i'm not going to raise taxes on anyone because when the economy is growing slow like this, when we're in recession, you shouldn't raise taxes on anyone. well, the economy is still growing slow. as a matter of fact, it's growt much more slowly now than when you made that statement. and so if you believe the same thing, you just don't want to raise taxes on people. and the reality is, it's not just wealthy people-- you mentioned donald trump. it's not just donald trump you're taxing.
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it's all those businesses that employ one-quarter of the workers in america, these small businesses that are taxed as individuals. you raise taxes and you kill jobs. that's why the national federation of independent businesses said your plan will kill 700,000 jobs. i don't want to kill jobs in this environment. let me make one more point. >> lehrer: that's not an answer-- mr. president? >> we've had this discussion before. >> lehrer: about the idea that in order to reduce the deficit, there has to be revenue in addition to cuts. >> there has to be revenue in addition to cuts. now, governor romney has ruled out revenue. he's ruled out revenue. >> absolutely. >> lehrer: completely. >> look the revenue i get is by more people working, getting higher pay, paying more taxes. that's how we get growth and how we balance the budget. but the idea of taxing people more, putting more people out of work, you'll never get there. you never balance the budget by raising taxes. spain, spain spends 42% of their total economy on government.
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>> lehrer: okay. >> we're now spending 42% of our economy on government. i don't want to go down the path to spain. i want to go down the path of growth that puts americans to work with more money coming in because they're working. >> lehrer: but, but, mr. president, you're saying in order to get the job done, it's got to be balanced. >> if we're serious we have to take a balanced, responsible approach. and by the way, this is not just when it comes to individual taxes. let's talk about corporate taxes. now, i've identified area where's we can right away make a change that i believe would actually help the economy. the oil industry gets $4 billion a year in corporate welfare. basically, they get deductions that those small businesses that governor romney refers to, they don't get. now, does anybody think that exxonmobil needs some extra money when they're making money every time you go to the pump? why wouldn't we want to eliminate that?
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why wouldn't we eliminate tax breaks for corporate jets? my attitude is, if you've got a corporate jet, you can probably afford to pay full freight and not get a special break for it. when it comes to corporate taxes, governor romney has said he wants to in a revenue-neutral way, close loopholes, deductions-- he hasn't identified which ones they are-- thereby bring down the corporate rate. i want to do the same thing but i've actually identified how to do that and part of the way to do it is to not give tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas. right now you can actually take a deduction for moving a plant overseas. i think most americans would say that doesn't make sense, and all that raises revenue. and so if we take a balanced approach, what that then allows us to do is also to help young people the way we already have during my administration make sure that they can afford to go to college. it means that the teacher that i
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met in las vegas, wonderful young lady who describes to me, she's got 42 kids in her class. the first two weeks, she's got them-- some of them sitting on the floor until finally they get reassigned. they're using textbooks that are 10 years old. that is not a recipe for growth. that's not how america was built. and so, budgets reflect choices. ultimately, we're going to have to make some decisions. and if we're asking for no revenue, then that means that we've got to get rid of a whole bunch of stuff, and the magnitude of the tax cuts that you're talking about, governor, would end up resulting in severe hardship for people but more importantly, would not help us grow. as i indicated before, when you talk about shifting medicaid to states, we're talking about potentially a 30% cut in medicaid over time. now, that may not seem like a big deal when it just is numbers
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on a sheet of paper. but if we're talking about a family who has an autistic kid and is depending on that medicaid, thies big problem. and governors are creative. there's no doubt about it, but they're not creative enough to make up for 30% of revenue on something like medicaid. what ends up happening is some people end up not getting help. >> jim, let's-- we've gone on a lot of topics there, it's going to take a minute to go from medicaid to schools-- >> lehrer: come back to medication. >> oils, and tax breaks and companies going overseas. first of all, the department of energy has said the tax break for oil companies is $2.8 billion a year, and it's actually an accounting treatment as you know that's been in place for 100 years. >> it's time to end it. >> and in one year, you provided $90 billion in breaks to the green energy world. now, i like green energy as well. but that's about 50 years worth of what oil and gas receives, and you say exxon and mobile, actually, this $2.8 billion goes
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largely to small companies, drilling operators and sor forth. if we get the tax rate from 35% to 25% the $2.8 billion is the the table. that's probably not going to survive to get that rate down to 25%. don't forget, you put $90 billion, like 50 years worth of breaks into solar and wind to solyndra, and i had a friend who said you don't just pick the winners and losers. you pick the losers. this is not-- this is not the kind of policy you want to have it if you want to get america energy secure. the second topic, you said you get a deduction for take a plant oafs. look, i've been in business for 25 years, i have no idea what you're talking about. i maybe need to get a new accountant, but the idea that you get a break for shipping jobs overseas is simply not the case. what we do have right now is a setting where i'd like to bring money from overseas back to this country. and finally, medicaid to states. i'm not quite sure where that
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came in, except this. which is i would like to take the medicaid dollars to go to states and say to a state, you're going to get what you got last year plus inflation plus 1%, and you're going to manage your care for your poor in the way you think best. i remember as a governor when this idea was floated by tommy thompson, the governors, republicans and democrats, said please let us do that. we can care for our own poor in so much better and more effective a way than having the federal government tell us how to care for our poor. so let's state-- one of the magnificent things about this country is the whole idea that states are the laboratories of democracy. don't have the federal government tell everybody what kind of training programs they have to have and what kind of medicaid they have to have. let states do this. by the way, if a state gets in trouble, we can step in and see if we can find a way to help them-- >> lehrer: let's go. >> but the right approach is one which relies on the brilliance of our people and state not the federal government. >> lehrer: we're still on the economy on-- but another part of
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it. all right? all right. this is segment three, the economy, entitlements. first answer goes to you, two minutes, mr. president. do you see a major difference between the two of you on social security? >> you know, i suspect that on social security, we've got a somewhat similar position. social security is structurally sound. it's going to have to be tweaked the way it was by ronald reagan and democratic speaker tip o'neill. but the basic structure is sound. but i want to talk about the values behind social security and medicare. and then talk about medicare because that's the big driver of our deficits right now. my grandmother, some of you know, helped to raise me, and my grandparents did. my grandfather died a while back, my grandmother died three days before i was elected president. and she was fiercely independent. she worked her way up only had a high school education, start as
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a secretary, ended up being the vice president of a local bank. and she ended up living alone by choice and the reason she could be independent was because of social security and medicare. she had worked all her life, put in this money, and understood that there was a basic guarantee, a floor under which she could not go. and that's the perspective i bring when i think about what's called entitlements. you know, the name itself implies some sense of dependency on the part of these folks. these are folks who have worked hard. like my grandmother. and there are millions of people out there who are counting on this. so my approach is to say how do we strengthen the system over the long term? and in medicare, what we did was we said we are going to have to bring down the costs if we're going to deal with our long-term deficits, but to do that, let's look where some of the money is going. $716 billion we were able to save from the medicare program by no longer over-paying
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insurance companies, by making sure that we weren't over-paying providers, and using that money we were actually able to lower prescription drug costs for seniors by an average of $600 and we were also able to make a significant dent in providing them the kind of preventive care that will ultimately save money throughout the system. so the way for us to deal with medicare in particular is to lower health care costs. when it comes to social security, as i said, you don't need a major structural change in order to make sure that social security is there for the future. >> lehrer: follow up on this. first, governor romney, you have two minutes on social security and entienltsments. >> well, jim, our seniors depend on these programs, and i know any time we talk about entitlements people become concerned that something is going to happen to change their lives for the worse, and the answer is neither the president nor i are proposing changes for
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current retirees or near retirees to social security or medicare. if you're 60 or around 60 or older, you don't need to listen further. for younger people we need to talk about changes that need to be occurring-- oh, i just thought of one. when i said the president isn't proposing changes for current retire ease, on medicare he is. on medicare, for current retirees he's cutting $716 billion from the program. he says by not overpaying hospitals and providers, by saying we're reducing the rates you get paid across the board. that's not just going after place where's there's abuse. there's saying we're cutting the rates. some 15% of hospitals and nursing homes say they won't take any more medicare patients. we also have doctors who say they won't take more medicare patients. we have four million people on medicare advantage that will lose medicare advantage because of the $716 billion in cuts.
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i can't understand how you can cut medicare $716 billion for current recipients of medicare. now, you point out, we're putting some back. we're going to give a better prescription program. that's one dollar for every 15 you've cut. they're smart enough ton that's not a good trade. i want to take that $716 billion you cut and put it back into medicare-- by the way, we can include a prescription program if we need to improve it, but the idea of cutting $716 billion from ned care to be able to balance the additional cost balmcare is in my opinion a mistake. with regards to young people coming alone, i've got proposals to make sure medicare and social security are there for them without any question. >> lehrer: mr. president. >> first of all, i think it's important for governor romney to present this plan that he says will only affect folks in the future. and the essence of the plan is that he would turn medicare into a viewcher program. it's called premium support, but
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it's understood to be a voucher program. his running mate-- >> lehrer: and you don't support that. >> i don't. and let me explain why. >> again, that's for future people, not for current retirees. >> i understand. so if you're 54 or 55, you might want to listen. because this-- this will affect you. the idea, which was originally presented by congressman ryan, your running mate, is that we would give a voucher to seniors and they could go out in the private marketplace and buy their own health insurance. the problem is that because the voucher wldn't necessarily keep up with health care inflation, it was estimated that this would cost the average senior about $6,000 a year. now, in fairness, what governor romney has now said is he'll maintain traditional medicare alongside it. there's still a problem. what happens is those insurance companies are pretty clever at figuring out who are the younger
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and healthier seniors. they recruit them, leaving the older, sicker seniors in medicare, and every health care economist who looks tat, says over time what will happen is the traditional medicare system will collapse. and then what you've got is folksike my grandmother at the mercy of the private insurance system precisely at the time when they are most in need of decent health care. so i don't think vouchers are the right way to go. and this is not my only-- only my opinion. aarp thinks the savings that we obtained from medicare bolstered the system, lengthened the medicare trust fund by eight years, benefits were not affected at all, and ironically, if you repeal obamacare-- and i have become fond of this term, obamacare-- if you repeal it, what happens is those seniors right away are going to be paying $600 more in prescription care, they're now going to have to be paying co-pays for basic
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checkups that can keep them healthier. and the primary beneficiary of that repeal are insurance companies that are estimated to gain blsz of dollars back when they aren't making seniors any healthier. and i don't think that's the right approach when it comes to making sure medicare is stronger over the long term. >> lehrer: we'll talk specifically about health care in a moment. do you support the voucher system, governor? >> what i support is no change for current retirees and near retirees to medicare. and the president supports taking $716 billion out of that ogram. >> lehrer: what about the vouchers? >> that's number one. number, two people coming along that are young, what i do to make sure we can keep medicare in place for them is to aow them to either choose the current medicare program or a private plan. their choice upon. they get to-- and they'll have at least two plans that will be entirely at no cost to them.
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so they don't have to pay additional money, no additional $6,000. that's not going to happen. they'll have at least two plans. by the way, if the government can be as efficient as the private sector and offer premiums as low as the private sector, people will be happy to get traditional medicare or they'll be able to get a private plan. i know my own view is, i'd rather have a private plan. i'd just as soon not have the government telling me what kind of health care to get. i'd rather hava an insurance company. if i don't like them, get rid of them and choose another insurance company. but people make their own choice. we have to have benefits high for low income but for higher income people we're going to have to lower some of the benefits. we have to make sure this program is there for the long term. that's the plan they put forward. and by the way, the idea came not even from paul ryan or senator widen, the coauthor of the bill with paul riden it became from bill clinton's chief of staff. this is an idea that's been around for a long time. we're saying, let's see if we can get competition into the medicare world so people can get
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the choice of different plans at lower cost, better quality. i believe in competition. >> jim, if i can just respond quickly. first of all, every study has shown that medicare has lower administrative costs than private insurance does, which is why seniorly are generally pretty happy with it, and private insurance has to make a profit. there's nothing wrong with that. that's what they do. so you have higher administrative costs. plus profit. on top of that. and if you are going to save any money through what governor romney's proposing, what has to happen is that the money has to come from somewhere. and when you move to a vouch erp system, you are putting seniors at the mercy of those insurance companies, and over time, if traditional medicare has decade or fallen apart, then they're stuck. and this is the reason why aarp has said that your plan would weaken medicare
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substantially, and that's why they were supportive of the approach that we took. one last point i want to make. we do have to lower the cost of health care. not just in medicare-- >> lehrer: we'll talk about that in a minute. >> but overall. >> thies big topic. can we stay on-- >> lehrer: all i want to do is-- >> let's get back to medicare. >> lehrer: no, no, no-- >> the president said the government can provide the service at a lower cost without a profit. if that's the case, it will always be the best product that people can purchase-- >> lehrer: wait a minute, governor. >> the private sector is typically able to provide a better product at a lower cost. >> lehrer: can the two of you agree the voters have a cheer choice between the two of you on medicare. >> yes. >> yes. >> lehrer: to finish briefly on the economy, what is your view about the federal regulation of the economy right now? is there too much, and in your case, mr. president, should
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there be more? beginning with you, this is not a new two-minute segment. start and we'll go for a few minutes and then we're going to go to health care, okay? >> regulation is essential. you can't have a free market work if you don't have regulation. as a business person, i had to have-- i need to know the regulations. i meed them there. you couldn't have people opening up banks in their garage and making loans-- you have to have regulation so that you can have an economy work. every free economy has a good regulation. at the same time, regulation can be excessive. >> lehrer: is it successful? >> in some places, yes, and in some it can be out the date. some legislation passed during the president's term you have seen regulation become excessive and it's hurt the economy. let me give you an example. dodd-frank was passed and includes a number of provisions that i think has some unintended consequences that are harmful to the economy. one is it designates a number of
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banks as too big to fail. and they're effectively guaranteed by the federal government. this is the biggest kiss given to new york bank i've ever seen. this is an enorm boon for them. there have been 122 community and small banks have closed since dodd-frank. there's one example. here's another. in dodd-- glooer you want to repeal dodd-frank. >> repeal and replace it. we're not going to get rid of all regulation. you have to have regulation. there are some parts of dodd-frank that make all the sense in the world. you need transparency-- >> lehrer: here's a specific-- >> let me mention another one. >> lehrer: let's not. let's let him respond to this specific on dodd-frank and what the governor just said. >> i think this is a great example. the reason we have been in such an enormous economic crisis was prompted by reckless behavior across the board. now, it wasn't just on wall street.
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you had loan officers that were giving loans and mortgages that really shouldn't have been given because the folks didn't qualify. you had people who were borrowing money to buy a house that they couldn't afford. you had credit agencies that remember stamping these as a-1 great investments when they weren't. but you also had banks making money hand over fist churning out products that the bankers themselves didn't even understand in order to make big profits but knowing that it made the entire system vulnerable. so what did we do? we stepped in and had the toughest reforms on wall street since the 1930s. we said you've got-- banks, you've got to raise your capital requirements. you can't engage in some of this risky behavior that is putting main street at risk. we're going to make sure you have to have a living will so we can know how you're going to wind things down if you make a bad bet so we don't have other taxpayer bailouts. in the meantime, by the way, we
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also made sure all the help that we provided those banks was paid back, every single dime, with interest. now, governor romney has said he wants to repeal dodd-frank. and you know, i appreciate and it appears we've got some agreement that a marketplace to work has to have some regulation. but in the past, governor romney has said he just wants to repeal dodd-frank, roll it back. the question is does anybody out there think that the big problem we had is that there was too much oversight and regulation of wall street? because if you do, then governor romney is your candidate. but that's not what i believe. >> sorry, jim, those are not the facts. look, we have to have regulation on wall street. that's why i'd have regulation, but i wouldn't designate five banks as too big to fail and give them a blank check. that's one of the unintended consequences of dodd-frank.
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it wasn't thought through properly. it's killing regional and small banks. let me mention another regulation. you say we were giving mortgages to people who weren't qualified. it's exactly right. it's one of the reasons for the great financial calamity we had. so dodd-frank correctly says we need to have qualified mortgages and if you give a mortgage that are not qualified there are big penalties except they didn't define what a qualified mortgage was. >> lehrer: all right. >> it's been two years. we don't know what a qualified mortgage is yet. so banks are reluctant to make loans, mortgages. try and get a mortgage these days. it's hurt the housing market. because dodd-frank didn't anticipate putting in place the kinds of regulations you have to have. it's not that dodd-frank was wrong with too much regulation. sometimes they didn't come out with a clear regulation. i will make sure we don't hurt the functioning of our marketplace and businesses because i want to bring back housing and get good job. >> lehrer: all right, i think we have another clear difference
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between the two of you. now let's move to health care where i know there is a clear difference, and that has to do with the affordable care act, balmcare, and it's a two-minute new segment. and it's-- that means two minutes each and you first, qualifier romney. you want it repealed. you want the affordable care act repealed. why? >> i sure do. well, in part it comes again from my experience, i was in new hampshire, a woman came to me and she said, i can't afford insurance for myself or my son. i met a couple in appleton, wisconsin who said we're thinking of dropping our insurance we can't afford it. and the number of small businesses saying they're dropping insurance because they can't afford it. the cost of health care is just prohibitive. and we've got to deal with cost. and, unfortunately, when you look at obamacare, the congressional budget office has said it will cost $2,500 a year more than traditional insurance.
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so it's adding to the cost. as a matter of fact, when the president ran for office, he said that by this year, he would have brought down the cost of insurance for each family by $2,500 a family. instead it's gone up by that amount. so it's expensive. expensive things hurt families. that's one thing i don't want it. second reason it cuts $716 billion in medicare to pay for it. i want to put that money back in medicare for seniors. number three, it puts in place an unelected board that's going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatment they can have. i don't like that idea. fourth, there was a survey done of small businesses across the country saying what's been the effect of obamacare on your hiring plan? and three-quarters said it makes us less likely to hire people. i just don't know how the president could have come into office, facing 23 million people out of work, rising unemployment, an economic crisis at the kitchen table, and spend his energy and passion for two years fighting for obamacare
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instead of fighting for jobs for the american people. it has killed jobs. and the best course for health care is to do what we did in my state, craft a plan at the state level that fits the needs of the state and then let's focus on getting the cost down for people, rather than raising it with a $2,500 additional premium. >> lehrer: mr. president, the argument against repeal. >> well, four years ago when i was running for office, i was traveling around and having the same conversations governor romney talks about. and it wasn't just that small businesses were seeing costs skyrocket. and they couldn't get affordable coverage, even if they wanted to provide it to their employees. it wasn't just that this was the biggest driver of our federal deficit, our overall health care costs but it was families who were worried about going bankrupt if they got sick. millions of families all across the country. they had a preexisting condition. they might not be able to get coverage at all. if they did have coverage, insurance companies might impose
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an arbitrary limit. and so as a consequence, they're paying their premiums. somebody gets really sick, lo and behold, they don't have enough money to pay the bills because the insurance companies say that they've hit the limit. so we did work on this alongside working on jobs because this is part of making sure that middle-class families are secure in this country. and let me tell you exactly what obamacare did. number one, if you've got health insurance, it shouldn't mean a government takeover. you keep your ow insurance. you keep your own doctor. but it does say insurance companies can't jerk you around. they can't impose arberary lifetime limits. they have to let you keep your kid on their insurance-- your insurance plan until they're 26 years old. and it also says that you're going to have to get rebase if insurance companies are spending more on administrative costs and
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profits than they are on actual care. number two, if you don't have health insurance, we're essentially setting up a group plan that allows you to benefit from group rate that are typically 18% lower than if you're out there trying to get insurance on the individual market. now, the last point i'd make before-- >> lehrer: two minutes is up, sir. >> i had five seconds before you interrupted me. ( laughter ). >> i irony is that we've seen this model work really well. in massachusetts. because governor romney did a good thing, working with with democrat in the state to set up what is essentially the identical model and as a consequence, people are covered there. it hasn't destroyed jobs. and as a consequence, we now have a system in which we have the opportunity to start bringing down costs as opposed
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to just leaving millions of people out in the cold. >> lehrer: your five seconds went away a long time ago. governor, tell the president directly why you think what he just said is wrong about obamacare. >> i did with my first statement. >> he did. please elaborate. >> i'll elaborate, exactly right. first of all, i like the twai we did it in massachusetts. i like the fact that in my state, we had republicans and democrats come together and work together. what you did instead was to push through a plan without a single republican vote. as a matter of fact, when massachusetts did something quite extraordinary, elected a republican senator to stop obamacare, you pushed it through anyway. on an entirely partisan basis, instead of bringing america together and having a discussion on this important topic you pushed through something that you and nancy pelosi and harry reid thought was the best answer and drove it through. what we did in the legislature, 87% democrat, only two voted
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against the plan by the time we were finished. what were some differences? we didn't raise taxes. you raised them by $1 trillion under obamacare. we didn't cut medicare-- of course we don't have medicare-- but we didn't cut medicare by $716 billion. we didn't put in place a board that will tell people ultimately what treatments they can receive. we didn't also do something that i think a number of people across this country recognized which is put people in a position where they're going to lose the insurance they had and they wanted. right now, the c.b.o. says up to 20 million people will lose their insurance as obamacare goes into effect next year. and likewise, a study by makinsy and company of american businesses said 30% of them are anticipating dropping people from coverage. for those reasons, for the tax, for medicare, if this board and people losing their insurance, this is where the american people don't want obamacare. it's why republicans said don't do this. the republicans had a plan. they put a plan out.
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a bipartisan plan. it was swept aside. i think something this big, this important has to be done on a bipartisan base, and we have to have a president who can reach across the aisle and fashion important legislation from input from both parties. >> governor romney said this has to be done on a bipartisan base. this was a bipartisan idea. in fact it was a republican idea. and governor romney at the beginning of this debate said what we did in massachusetts could be a model for the nation. and i agree that the democratic legislators in massachusetts might have given some advice to republicans in congress about how to cooperate. but the fact of the matter is, we used the same advisers and they say it's the same plan. when governor romney talks about this board, for example, unelected board that we've created. what this is, is a group of health care experts, doctors, et cetera, to figure out how can we reduce the cost of care in the
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system overall. because there are two ways of dealing with our health care cries. one is to simply leave a whole bunch of people uninsured and let them fend for themselves. to let businesses figure out how long they can continue to pay premiums until finally they give up and their workers are no longer getting insured, and that's been the trend line or alternatively we can figure out how can we make the cost more forecastive and there are ways of doing it. at cleveland crinnic, one of the best health care systems in the world, they actually provide great care cheaper than average. and the reason they do is because they do some smart things. they say if a patient's coming in, let's get all the doctors together at once, do one test, instead of having the patient run around with 10 tests. let's make sure that we're providing preventive care so we're cawching the onset of something like diabetes.
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let's pay providers on the base of performance as opposed to on the base of how many procedures they've engaged in. now, so what this board does is basically identifies best practices and says let's use the purchasing power of medicare and medicaid to help to institutionalize all these good things that we do. and the fact of the matter is, that when obamacare is fully implemented, we're going to be in a position to show that costs are going down. and over the last two years, health care premiums have gone up, it's true, but they've gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years. so we're already beginning to see progress. in the meantime, folks out there with insurance, you're already getting a rebate. let me make one last point. governor romney says we should replace it. i'i'm going to repeal it, but we can replace it with something.
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the problem is he can't described what we're going to replace it with other than to say we'll leave it to the states. the fact of the matter is, some of the prescriptions that he's offered, like letting you buy insurance across state lines, there's no indication that that somehow is going to help somebody who has a preexisting condition to be able to finally buy insurance. it's estimate by repealing obamaed care you're looking at 50 million people losing health insurance at a time when it's vitally important. >> lehrer: let's let the governor explanation what you would do if obamacare is repealed. >> actually, it's a lengthy description. but number one, preexisting conditions are coveredded under my plan. number two, young people can stay on the plans. that's already offered in the marketplace. you don't need the government to mandate that. let's come back to something the president and i agree on, the key task we have in health care is to get the cost down so it's more affordable for families,
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and then he has as a model for doing that a board of people at the government, an unelected board, appointed board, who are going to decide what kind of treatment you're going to have. >> no, it isn't. >> in my opinion, the government is not effective in bringing down the cost of almost anything. as a matte as a matter of fact,e people and free enterprising are more effective bringing down the cost than the governor will ever be. your example of the cleveland clinic is my case in point along with several others i could describe. these are the private markets, enterprisecompeting with each other doing better and better jobs. i used to can the to businessess -- excuse me, hospitals and health care providers and i was astonished at the creativity and innovation that exists until the american people. in order to bring the cost of health care down, we don't need to have a board of 15 people telling us what kind of treatments we should have. we instead need to put insurance
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plans, providers, hospitals, doctors on target such that they have an incentive, as you say, performance pay, for doing an excellent job for keeping costs down, and that's happening. inner mountain health care does it superbly well. mayor clinic is doing it spushly well, cleveland clinic, others. but the right answer is not to have the federal government take over health care and start mandating to the providers across america telling a patient and a doctor what kind of treatment they can have. that's the wrong way to go. the private market and individual responsibility always work best. >> let me just point out, first of all, this board that we're talking about can't make decisions about what treatments they're given. that's explicitly prohibited in the law. but let's go back to what governor romney indicated that, under his plan, he would be able to cover people with preexisting conditions. well, actually, governor, that isn't what your plan does.
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what your plan does is to duplicate what's already the law, which says if you are out of health insurance for three months, then you can end up getting continuous coverage, and an insurance company can't deny you if it's been under 90 days. but that's already the law. and that doesn't help the millions of people out there with preexisting conditions. there's a reason why governor romney set up the plan that he did in massachusetts. it wasn't a government takeover of health care. it was the largest expansion of private insurance. but what it does say is that insurers, you've got to take everybody. now, that also means you've got more customers. but when governor romney says that he'll replace it with something, but can't detail how it will be in fact replaced, and the reason he set up the system he did in massachusetts was
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because there isn't a better way of dealing with the preexisting conditions problem. it just reminds me of, he says he's going to close deductions and loopholes for his tax plan. that's how it's going to be paid for. but we don't know the details. he says he's going to replace dodd-frank, wall street reform, but we don't know exactly which ones. he won't tell us. he now says he's going to replace obamacare and ensure that all the good things that are in it are going to be in there and you don't have to worry. and at some point, i think the american people have to ask themselves, is the reason that governor romney is keeping all these plans to replace secret because they're too good? is it because that somehow middle-class family are going to benefit too much from them? no the reason is because when we reform wall street, when we tackle the problem of preexistin conditions, then these are tough problems and
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we've got to make choices and the chineses we've made have been ones that ultimately are benefitting middle-class families all across the the country. >> lehrer: we're going to move to-- >> i have to respond to that which is my experience as a governor is if i come in and lay down a piece of legislation and say it's my way or the highway, i don't get a lot done. what i do is the same way that tip o'neil and ronald reagan worked together some years ago, when ronald reagan ran for office he laid out the principles he was going to foster. he said he was going to lower tax rates. he said he was going to broaden the base. you said the same thing. you're going to simplify the tax code, broaden the base. those are my principles i want to bring down the tax burden on middle-income families and i want to work with congress to say what are the various ways we can wring down deductions. one way would be to have a single number. make up a number, $25,000, $50,000. anybody can have deduction up to that amount. and then that number disappears for high-income people. that's one way one could do it.
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one could follow bowles-simpson and take deduction by deduction. there are alternatives to pleas the objective i have which is tow bring down rates, broaden the base, simplify the code, and create incentives for growth. with regards to health care, you had remarkable details with regard to my reexisting conditions plan. you obviously studied up on my plan. in fact i do have a plan that deals with people with preexisting conditions. that's part of my health care plan, and what we did in massachusetts is a model for the nation state by state. and i said that at that time. the federal government taking over health care for the entire nation and whisking aside the tenth amendment, which gives states the right for these kinds of things. >> lehrer: all right. >> is not the course for america to have a stronger, more vibrant economy. >> thaeconomy. >> lehrer: that is a terrific segue to our next segment and it's the role of government. and role of government, and it is-- you are first on this, mr.
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and the question is this-- do you believe-- both of you, but you have the first two minutes on this, mr. president. do you believe there's a fundamental difference between of two of you as to how you view the mission of the federal government? >> well, i definitely think there are differences. the first role of the federal government is to keep the american people safe. that's its most basic function. and as commander in chief, that something that i have worked on and thought about every single day that i've been in the oval office. but i also believe that government has the capacity, the federal government has the capacity to help open up opportunity and create ladders of opportunity and to create framework where's the american people can succeed. look, the genius of america is the free enterprise system, and freedom and the fact that people can go out there and start a
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business, work on an idea, make their own decision, but as abraham lincoln understood, there are also some things we do better together. in the middle of the civil war, abraham lincoln said let's help to finance the transcontinental railroad. let's start the national academy of sciences. let's start land grant colleges because we want to give these gateways of opportunity for all americans, because if all americans are getting opportunity, we're all going to be better off. that doesn't restrict people's freedom. that enhances it. and so what i've tried to do as president is to apply those same principles. and when it comes to education, what i've said is, we've got to reform schools that are not working. we used something called race to the top. it wasn't a top-town approach, governor. what we said is to states, we'll give you more money if you initiate reforms. and as a consequence, you had 46
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states around the country who have made a real difference. but what i've also said is let's hire another 100,000 math and science teachers to make sure we maintain our technological lead and our people are skilled and able to succeed. and hard-pressed states right now can't all do that. in fact, we've seen layoffs of hundreds of thousands of teachers over the last several years, and governor romney doesn't think we need more teachers. i do. because i think that, that is the kind of investment where the federal government can help. they can't do it all, but it can make a difference and as a consequence, we'll have a better trained workforce, and that will create jobs because companies want to locate in place where's we've got a skilled workforce. >> lehrer: two minutes, governor, on the role of government, your view. >> first, i love great schools. in massachusetts, ow schools are ranked number one of all 50 states. and the key to great schools, great teachers. so i reject the idea that i don't believe in great teach erpz or more teachers. everyone school descrirkt every state should make that decision on their own.
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the role of government. look behind us. the constitution and the declaration of independence. the role of government is to promote and protect the principles of those documents. first, life and liberty. we have a responsibility to protect the lives and liberties of our people and that means a military second to none. i do not believe in cutting our military. i believe in maintaining the strength of america's military. second, in that line that says, "we are endowed by our creator with our rights," i believe we must maintain our commitment to religious tolerance and freedom in this country. that statement also says that we are endowed by our creator with the right to pursue happiness as we choose. i interpret that as, one, making sure that those people who are less fortunate and can't care for themselves are cared for by one another. we're a nation that believes we're all children of the same god, and we care for those that have difficulties, those that are elderly and have problems ps and challenges.
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those that are disabled, we care for them and look for discovery and innovation, and all these things desired out the american heart to provide the pursuit of happiness for our citizens. but we also believe in maintaining under individuals the right to pursue their dreams, and not to have the government substitute itself for the rights of free individuals. and what we're seeing right now is in my view air, trickle-down government approach which has government thinking it can do a better job than free people pursuing their dreams and it not working. and the proof of that 23 million people out of work. the proof of of that is one out of six people in poverty. the proof of that is we've gone from 32 million on food stamps to 47 million on food stamps. the proof is that 50% of college graduates this year can't find work. we know that the palgt we're taking is working. it's time fair new path. >> lehrer: let's go through some specifics in terms of how each of you viewses the role of government. education. does the federal government have a responsibility to improve the
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quality of public education in america? >> well, the primary responsibility for education is, of course, at the state and local level. but the federal government also can play a very important role, and i agree with secretary arnie duncan. some of the ideas he's put forward on race to the top. not all of them, but some of them, i agree with and i congratulate him for pursuing that. the federal government can get local and state schools to do a better job. my own view, by the way, i added to that. i happen to believe i want the kids getting federal dollars from idea or title i, these are disabled kids or poor kids or lower income kids, i want them to be able to go to the school of their choice so all federal funds instead of going to the state or to the school districts i'd have go, if you will, follow the child and let the parent and the child decide where to send their student. >> lehrer: how do you see the federafederal government's responsibility to, as i said, to improve the quality of public education in this country.
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>>aise indicated, i think it has a significant role to play. through the race to the top we have worked with republican and democratic governors to initiate major reforms and they're having an impact right now. >> lehrer: do you think you have a difference with your views and those of governor romney on education? >> this is where budgets matter because budgets reflect choices. so when governor romney indicates that he wants to cut taxes and potentially benefit folks like me and him, and to pay for it, we're having to initiate significant cuts in federal support for education, that makes a difference. you know, his running mate, congressman, ryan put forward a budget that reflects many of the principles that governor romney's talked about, and it wasn't very detailed. this simes to be a trend, but what it did do, if you extrapolated how much money we're talking about you looked
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at cutting the education budget up to 20%. when it comes to community colleges, we are seeing great work done out there all over the country, because we have the opportunity to train people for jobs that exist right now. and one of the things i suspect governor romney and i probably agree on is getting businesses to work with community colleges so that they're setting up their training programs-- >> lehrer: do you agree, governor? >> let me finish the point. i suspect it will be a small agreement. they're part nerg so that-- they're designing training programs and people who are going through them know that there's a job waiting for them if they complete it. that makes a big difference, but that requires some federal support. let me just say one final example. when it comes to making college affordable, whether it's two-year or four-year, one of the things diaz president was we were sending $60 billion to banks and lender as middle men for the student loan programs,
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even though the loans were guaranteed. there was no risk for the banks and lenders but they were taking billions out of the system. we said why not cut out the middle man? and as a consequence, what we've been able to do is provide millions more students assistance, lower or keep low interest rates on stient loans, and this is an example of where our priorities make a difference. governor romney, i genuinely believe cares about education, but when he tells a student that, you know, should borrow money from your parents to go to college, that indicate the agree to which, you know, there may not be as much of a focus on the fact that folks like myself, folks like michelle, kids probably who attend university of denver, just don't have that option, and for us to be able to make sure that they've got that opportunity and they can walk through that door, that is vitally important, not just to those kids. it's how we're going to grow this economy over the long term.
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>> lehrer: we're running out of time. >> jim, jim-- >> lehrer: respond to that. mr. president, you're entitled as the president your own airplane and your own house but not you're own facts. i'm not going to cut education funding. i don't have any plan to cut education funding and grants that go to people going to college. i'm planning on continuing to grow. so i'm not planning on making changes there. but you make a very good point which is the place you put your money makes a pretty clear indication of where your heart is. you put $90 billion into green jobs, and i-- look, i'm all in favor of green energy, 90 billion. that would have hired two million teachers. $90 billion. and these businesses, many of them have gonzales out of business. i think about half of them, the ones that have been ibvested in, have gone out of business. a number have been owned by people who were contributors to your campaign. the right course for america's government-- we were talking about the role of government-- is not to become the economic
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player picking winners and losers, telling people what kind of health treatment they can receive. taking over the health care system. that has existed in this country for a long, long time and has producedly the best health records in the world. how do we make the private. i propose we grade our schools so parents know which schools are succeedin succeeding and fao they can take their child to a school being more successful. i don't want to cut our commitment to education. i want to make it more effective and efficient. and by the way, i've had that experience. i don't just talk about it. i've been there. massachusetts schools are ranked number one in the nation. this is not because i didn't center commitment to education. it's because i care about education for all of our kids. >> lehrer: all right, gentlemen-- >>---- >> lehrer: excuse me, one second. we barely have three minutes let. i'm not going to grade the two of you when say your answers
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have been too long or i've done a poor job. >> you've done a great job. >> lehrer: but the fact is, government-- the role of government and governing, we've lost a pod in other words so we only have three minutes left in the debate before we go to your closing statements soy i want to ask finally, here, and remember, we've got three minutes total time here, and the question is this-- many of the legislative functions of the federal government right now are in a state of pal sis as a result of-- paralysis as a result of partisan gridlock, if elected in your case, if re-elected in your case, what would do you about that, governor? >> jim, i had the great experience-- it didn't seem like it at the time-- of being elected in a state where my legislature was 87% democrat. and that meant i figuredly out from day one i had to get along and i had to work across the aisle to get anything done. we drove our schools to be number one in the nation.
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we cut taxes 19 time. >> lehrer: what would do you as president? >> as president i will sit down on day one-- actually the day after i get elected, i will sit down with leaders, democratic leaders as well as republican leaders as we did in my state. we met every monday for a couple of hours, talked about the issues and challenges in the state in that case. we have to work on a collaborative basis, not because we're going to compromise our principle but because there's common ground and the challenges america faces right now. look, the reason i'm in this race is there are people that are really hurting today in this country. and we face this-- this deficit could crush the future generations. what's happening in the middle east? there are developments around the world of real concern. and exprns democrats both love america. but we need to have leadership, leadership in washington that will actually bring people together and get the job done, and could not care less if it's a republican or a democrat. i've done it before. i'll do it again. gleerp mr. president. >> first of all, i think governor romney's going to have
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a busy first day, because he's also going to repeal obamacare, which will not be very popular among democrats as you're sitting down with them. but, look, my philosophy has been i will take ideas from anybody, democrat or republican, as long as they're advancing the cause of making middle-class families stronger and giving ladders of opportunity to the middle class. that's how we cut taxes for middle-class families and small businesses. that's how we cut $1 trillion of spending that wasn't advancing that cause. that's how we signed three trade deals into law helping us double our exports and sell more american products around the world. that's how we repealed don't ask, don't tell. that's how we ended the war in iraq as i promised and that's how we're going to wind down the war in afghanistan, that's how we went after al qaeda and bin laden. so we've seen progress, even under republican control of the house of representatives. but ultimately, part of being principled, apartment of being a leader is, a., being able to
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describe exactly what it is you intend to do, not just saying i'll sit down. but you have to have a plan. number two, what's important is organizationally you've got to say-- occasionally you've got to say no, to folks both in your own party and in the other party. and have we had some fights between me and the republicans when they fought back against us reigning in the excesses of wall street? absolutely, that was a fight that need to be had. when we were fighting whether or not americans had more security with their health insurance and they said no, yes, that that wa fight we needed to have. so part of leadership and governing is both saying what it is that you are for, but also being willing to say no to some things. and i've got to tell you, governor romney, when it comes to his own party during the course of this campaign has not displayed that willingness to say no to some of the more extreme part of his party. >> lehrer: that brings us to closing statements. there was a coin toss.
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governor romney, you won the toss and you lectsed to go last. so you have a closing two minutes, mr. president. >> well, jim, i want to thank you, and i want to thank governor romney, because i think this was a terrific debate, and i very much appreciate it. and i want to thank the university of denver. you know, four years ago, we were going through a major crisis. and yet, my faith and cches in the american-- and confidence in the american future is undiminished. and the reason is because of its people. because the woman i met in north carolina who decided at 55 to go back to school because she wanted to inspire her daughter and now has a job from that new training that she's gotten. because a company in minnesota who was willing to give up salaries and perks for their executives to make sure that they didn't lay off workers during a recession. the auto workers that you meet in toledo or detroit, take such pride in building the best cars in the world, not just because
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of a paycheck, but because it gives them that sense of pride, that they're helping to build america. and so the question now is how do we would on those strengths and everything that i've tried to do, and everything that i'm now proposing for the next four years in terms of improving our education system or developing american energy, or making sure that we're closing loopholes for companies shipping jobs overseases and focusing on small businesses, companies creating jobs here in the united states, or closing our deficit in a responsible, balanced way that allows us to invest in our future. all those things are designed to make sure that the american people, their genius, their grit, their determination is channeled and they have an opportunity to succeed. and everybody's getting a fair shot, and everybody's getting a fair share, everybody's doing a fair share and everybody's playing by the same rules. un, four years ago, i said that i'm not a perfect man and i wouldn't be a perfect president.
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and that's probably a promise governor romney probably thinks i've kept. i also promised i'd fight every single day on the behalf of the american people and the middle class and all those striving to get into the middle class. i've kept that promise, and if you'll vote for me, then i promise i'll fight just as hard in a second term. >> lehrer: governor romney, your two minutes. >> thank you, jim, mr. president, and thank you for tuning in this evening. this is an important election, and i'm concerned about america. i'm concerned about the direction america has been taking over the last four years. i have-- i know this is bigger than an election about the two of us as individuals. it's bigger than our respective partys. it's an election about the course of america. what kind of america do you want to have for yourself and for your children? and there really are two very different paths that we began speaking about this evening and over the course of this month, we're going to have two more presidential debates and a vice presidential debate. we'll talk about those two paths but they lead in very different directions.
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it's not just looking to our words to take evidence of where they go. you can look at the record. there's no question in my mind, if the president were to be re-elected you'll sustain to see a middle-class squeeze with incomes going down, and prices going up. i'll get incomes up again. you'll see chronic unemployment. we've had 43 state months with unemployment above 8%. if i am president i will create-- help create 12 million new jobs in this country with rising incomes. if president is elected, obamacare will be installed. many will lose insurance. you'll see health premiums go up $2,500 per family. if i'm elected we won't have obamacare, and i'll put in the principles i have in my state and allow each state to craft their own program getting people insured and focus on getting the cost of health care down. if the president were to be re-elected you're going to see a
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$716 billion scut to medicare. four million people who will lose medicare advantage. hospitals and providers who will no longer accept medicare patients. i will restore the $716 billion to medicare. and military. if the president is re-elected you'll see dramatic cuts to the military. the secretary of defense said these will be devastating. i will not cut our commitment to our military. i will keep america strong and get america's middle class working again. thank you, jim. >> lehrer: thank you, governor, thank you, mr. president. the next debate will be the vice presidential event on thursday october 11. from now, from the university of denver, i'm jim lehrer, thank you, and good night. ( applause ) >> woodruff: as we continue to watch the two candidates and jim leery on the stage, the debate has concluded while we watch them, we're going to turn to our observers, syndicated columnist mark shields and "new york times" columnist david brooks, also with us is the "newshour's"
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political editor, christinabeliantony, they've been watching with gwen and me. a very serious policy debate, david. what did you make of it? >> that's who they are. you got to see the warm meeting souls of these two men. they love policy and went deep into it. i thought overall romney had the better of the dbate. i thought he dispelled stereotypes of individualists. i thought he looked happier to be there. i thought he was certainly more aggressive. and finally i guess i would say the president missed out on a lot of opportunities to mention the 47%, to echo some of the themes the democratic ad campaigns which have been so successful. i thought on balance it was a good night for mitt romney. griewd what did you think about that, mark? >> i was amazed the 47% didn't come up. i think what we saw more than anything the rust from the president not having been in a debate, quite frankly, for four years. and i thought that mitt romney, the challenger always, with the president, gets an advantage,
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just by being there on the same stage and beeb at least equal. i thought that romney did quite well in making his case. he seemed comfortable. he seemed confident. he didn't seem mean spirited. i was amazed the president didn't rebut the the $716 billion charge. it's a phony charge. it's been-- i mean, it's been fact checked after fact checked, and the president-- that's why i say the rust. i didn't think he counter-punched well. even though they were talking about issues that are the president's strengths. i mean i thought the president did better on education. i thought the present did better on medicare and when he put a personal face on it with his grandmother, the autistic family, the child of the family, an autistic child. >> ifill: go did you think the format allowed them to speak in sweeping tones. they both started off, barack obama, by talking about new economic patriotism, and mitt romney by talkin talking about trickle-down government. and they took off from there.
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it seemed that shaped a lot of where the conversation went. >> i would have liked to have seen more than themes, actually. i thought a lot of the themes got lost-- they crammed each answer with too many specifics, too many details, too many planks in the platform in each different answer. it was kind of lost. i'm not sure voters who are not paying attention to politics. we know the background to all these issues but i'm not quite sure what they'll get out of it if anything. >> woodruff: that's my question, are voters -- we followed some of this but it was pretty dense at times, wasn't it. >> it was. the president's theme was how the burdens and benefits of governmented ought to be distributed. he kept coming back to that. that we were sort of all in this together. and what surprised me, i guess, about mitt romney was he used the-- as a credential, the governorship of massachusetts more tonight than he has in the past 11 months. it's just remarkable. you would have thought he went from governor of massachusetts
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to denver, the university of denver. >> ifill: but that's a point. there was a lot of time talking about the past, the governor of massachusetts, or the president invoked bill clinton repeatedly. how much time was spent talking about the future. >> they have their plans. they keep talking about their plans. some of it is vague. some of it is, frankly, nonexistent. one of the reasons i thought romney did reasonably well, when was the last time you heard a republican talk about the need for government regulation. he went there. he talked about not cut cutting taxes for the rich overall. he did a lot of compassionate conservatism, more than than he's done before. one of the weaknesses for the romney campaign has been the white working women in swing states. i'm not how much he swung them. but it was much less i'm a corporate rugged individualist than twee saw at the republican convention. it was much more open, much popular flexible, a little less hard to stereotype as this corporate raider type guy. >> woodruff: go ahead. >> just no mention of
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immigration in the entire-- major issue-- >> woodruff: the topics were economy-- >> i know, but the forum was so easy you could bring it up. they brought up foreign policy and osama bin laden and he brought up the middle east. there was no mention of same-sex marriage. no mention of the environment. >> no mention of mitt romney's tax returns, which has been-- >> he gave obama an opening. he said maybe i have the wrong accountant. >> that was a great opening. >> that was a wide open. >> that's what i meant about the rest. >> woodruff: you think the fact the president hasn't debated since 2008. >> perhaps, john kerry is a skilled debater, but john kerry also wants to be secretary of state. i wonder how tough he went in those sections because that was the charge against david stockman after ronald reagan in '84. that's why reagan, he was too tough on him. >> ifill: can we talk about body language? one of the thinks we remember is the way al exwoar crowded george
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w. bush and gave him the look or the way someone sighed, the way the two relate standing next to each other. did you get anything watching that? >> i'm not sure there will be a moment easy to repeat over and over again in the next several days, television shows. i do think romney looked aggressive, maybe a little over-aggressive, a bulldozer, kept going, kept going. i thought if maybe there was a slight advantage, at certain times the president looked a little peefd, a little stiff, maybe, but i wouldn't say there was a big difference between the two. >> woodruff: how did you see it? >> i thought romney didn't know when to take the foot off the pedal a couple of times. he just kept going. >> woodruff: he wanted to have the last word. >> he did want to have the last word. i thought he looked more comfortable. and i thought he seemed more comfortable, and i think the president didn't seem nearly as happy to be there as did mitt romney. >> woodruff: did-- when all is said and done, are the two of you saying you think that tonight romney successfully inoculated himself on this 47%. >> no. >> no.
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( laughter ). >> woodruff: you're not going that far. >> i will say in the last week, the polls have tightened. and i think he's-- romney's going to get another breeze on his sails over the next few days that, okay, new life in this campaign, the media storyline will shift a little in his direction. i don't know what effect it will have on the country, as i side, for the undecided voters who don't pay attention i'm not sure at it will do, but for those who care he will have a good bounce. >> ifill: we always say we want specificity. >> woodruff: and they were >> ifill: they were specific tonight, mark. >> they were. they each went back to their talking points time and again. the president's going to save money from the two wars winding down, we borrowed all that money. he made that point. i don't know how we're going to save the money and pay off the deficit that way. mitt romney talks about painless, ohless prosperity. it is a hot funnel sundae diet. it's not going to be discomfort
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for anybody and we're just going to get 12 million new jobs. the idea of any sacrifice was totally missing. >> woodruff: let's bring in christinabelianed tony, who has been look at social media, twitter, what are they saying. >> ifill: do they completely disagree with everything we said here. >> you have to keep mind with twitter it's a lot of partisans, people very, very interested in this, they want to have the two-scene experience soexplain what they think and talk about different zingers. there was a flood of everything from looking at the types ofitize that the men are wearing. to what their body language is. but, obviously, the note from tonight was this joke about big bird, that ended up being the trending topic on twitter. interesting for us. some of the consultants we have been talking to said wait, where is the debate? where is the talk about the tax returns and 47% video. you ended up with a lot of
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joking and not necessarily a lot of specifics. >> ifill: this set of debates, unlike previous years, twitter didn't exist in any real way four years ago. did the campaign set to manipulate social media or use it in a way that they can influence what we're saying around the table afterwards? >> the obama campaign actually did use twitter four years ago which is interesting because not that many of us were on it, and not that many people were paying attention. the romney campaign did something a little more innovative, they talked about how they treated from the former governor's account, which is something they did during the convention, and they got followers. and instead of doing what they normally do, put out all these press releases with rapid response, fact check, they createdda of a tumplr-- >> woodruff: you have to explain for people watching. >> tumblr is a blog site where you can put up a bunch of
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different messages. for them, they could get their people to spread that to their network. interest will enough, when you looked on facebook, a lot of those posts were trending. it wasn't necessarily the jokes or what coloritize like on twitter. >> ifill: what jokes? did i miss the jokes. >> big bird was the big one. >> woodruff: was there a consensus about who came out on top or both sides arguing for their guy? >> shockingly enough, partisans on each side thought their guy was doing better. there was a lot of sentiment, particularly among reporters, that mitt romney was doing a little bit better in this debate. they were saying the president wasn't as aggressive. a lot of people were saying they wanted the president to come out a little more swing, the point you made about the opening for the 47% comments,ic, caymen isld accounts and there was a lot of frustration. >> ifill: let me ask you about that. expectations are how we take these big events and judge them ultimately. what were your expectations, mark, and were they met? >> i guess my expectations were that romney would be a little
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bit more tentative. and he-- and try to be a little bit more likable. i think it was wise on his part not to be. ( laughter ). no, no-- >> ifill: he's likable enough? >> not to be obviously so. he had one little line at the end, i think, that was sort of intended in that direction. but i really thought-- i thought the president would be the dominant figure on the stage. and i don't think he was tonight. >> ifill: what do you think about that? >> i guess i've been criticizing romney for being inauthentic, and i thought this was the more authentic romney than we've seen before. the president-- what i thought was that that romney would be incredibly aggressive, which he was. i was in the minority. the pollsters when they asked who do you think is a better debater, two to one going into the debate, the country thought obama was a better debater. i suspect, given those
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expectations, romney will have over-performed. >> woodruff: do you think it was a deliberate strategy on the part of the president to not be more aggressive or he was trying to hue to the format, the economy and health care and the role of government? what do you-- >> my impression, he has sessions with columnists where he defends his policies. that's what he sounds like. and so i don't think it was anything different than he has been talkin talk within the reaf the white house for the past four years. >> it was too policy abstract, the president's presentation was. and, you know, the few times he did put a human face on it, as i mentioned, it was better. what i found interesting was who became the innocence by association figures? tip o'neill and ronald reagan were invoked by both sides. ( laughter ). and donald trump became the punching bag of small business. i just eye found that interesting. and of course bill clt was embraced not simply by the president but by mitt romney--
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>> this tip o'neill-ronald reagan relationship was not that good. >> s it was a lot more cordial in-- >> woodruff: in memory. >> yeah, in memory. >> ifill: we have a chance to go back out to denver and go to two npr reporters, scott horsily, has the reporting from president obama's campaign, and ari shapiro has been traveling with mitt romney. hi, guys. ari shapiro, did your guy do what he came to do tonight? >> well, mitt romney had to stand on the stage and look presidential and a plausible alternative to president obama. he certainly cleared that bar. i think in many people's thought he went beyond, control the stage, giving memorable lines and standing up to the president, and occasionally the moderator in kind of an aggressive way. >> woodruff: scott what, about the president? you've been out on the trail listening to him. what differences? what similarities did you see tonight? >> well, he was really trying to get mitt romney to give some specifics about what het would
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mean for his tax pran. what would his changes to dodd-frank mean? what would his repeal of obamacare mean? he didn't hear the specifics. and i think the memorable line from president obama is, is romney keeping these details quiet because they're too good for the middle class? >> woodruff: are you-- i mean, did the president's campaign expect that romney was going to be more ecific tonight? >> no, i think they wanted to point out there are not a lot of specifics in the romney plan. whether that's an impression that will be made in two-minute debate answers i'm not sure. i thought governor romney if you were watching, as a first impression, campaign across as a reasonable person. a plausible alternative to the president. and i think, you know, the obama campaign was very worried about just what ari was talking about, the challenger typically benefits from just sharing the
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stage with the incumbent. >> ifill: ari shapeeree was that part of the preparation, that they were prepared to find a way to balance out their relative standing on that stage? >> reporter: absolutely. it was a careful balancing act they had to execute because on the one hand, romney being behind in the polls, had to be aggressive, and sort of stand up to president obama. on the other hand, when you look at likeability numbers, president obama say far more popular figure than mitt romney and so he risked if he was too aggressive coming across as a bully, worsening the problem so he really had to thread the needle between those two things. >> woodruff: scott, that's what i wanted to ask you, i'll ask you and then ask ari to respond. we've been sitting here at the desk in washington talk, about the debate, and the commentary has been the president didn't-- wasn't as assertive. wasn't as aggressive. didn't bring up the 47%. theories about why he didn't do that tonight? >> well, i think the 47% is out
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there. the president didn't need to make that argument. that's already taken its toll on the romney-- i think, you know, one of the interesting things the president did do tonight was try to humanize some of these wonkish policy debates. he talked a little bit about his grandmother when it came to medicare. interesting to see how that resonates maybe with older voters and also trying to, again, hold romney's feet to the fire and say you keep saying your medicare plan won't affect those who are still a decade away from retirement, but if you're 53 or 54, you might want to pay attention to this. >> woodruff: ari i want to follow up on what judy just asked. you've been following governor romney around for some time now, and we remember him from the republican primary debate where's he came across looking kind of stiff and just straight up and down. tonight there was a lot of movement, a lot of body language. and, also he started by just like scott just mentioned, talking about individuals he had met along the trail, seemed to humanize him.
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>> yeah, clearly he was trying to humanize himself tonight. right off the bat he talked. people he met on the trail. president obama waited until 30 minute into the debate to first talk about a voter. mitt romney was talking about his five sons. he talked about ann romney being on the trail. there were a lot of little moments in the debate where he was clearly trying to bring out the more human side to appeal to voters, womens, independents, people who you say may have seen him as a little stiff. >> woodruff: is it too early to ask both of you how you think the campaigns sense this debate is going to change anything going forward in the days to come, ari? >> just hearing from the romney campaign it sound like they got what they wanted to out of tonight. they, obviously, have work to do. they're behind in the polls. they need to make up a lot of ground. but i don't think anybody scored a lethal blow tonight. i don't think anyone made a huge gaffe tonight. but from the perspective of the romney campaign they feel like they accomplished what they needed to do. >> ifill: scott, how many eggs did the obama campaign put in this basket?
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>> negotiate the obama campaign was really just trying not to make a major mistake here. they came in to tas ari said, a small advantage. they just didn't want to lose too much ground but they've also been setting the stage, advising everyone that they expect to see a small bump for governor romney as a result of this debate tonight. >> ifill: what do they do from here? we're obviously expecting to see the candidates always leave these bates head out on the road, try to capitalize. scott, first you, and then you, ari. tell me, where are they going next? >> well the road is a short one initially for the president. he'll do a rally here in denver tomorrow morning and then travels to madison, wisconsin, for what could be a large rally tomorrow afternoon. >> and mitt romney is going to let the-- mitt romney is going to sort of let the cuts from the debate play all the way through tomorrow morning, not going to get in front of the cameras again until tomorrow afternoon when he holds a rally in virginia and on into the weekend
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he'll number florida, virginia and florida, of course, being two of the most important swing state in the election this year. >> woodruff: ari shapiro, scott horsily, thankou. you are our eyes and ears on the ground. >> ifill: what do you think about what they said, that obama came in just not to make a mistake? >> scott made a good point about one of the themes obama kept hitting was the secret plans. and one of his finer moments in the campaign was are you keeping them secret because the details are so good, and that was a good moment for obama. i'm not sure there were that many of them. but that was a good moment. i'm not sure your plans are secret are the strongest themes but he did hit on that. >> if you're going to mentio secret plans why not mention other secrets about the governor. i thought both scott and ari read the response and the reaction of the two campaigns perfectly... and i think they were in tune. they're out there now spinning. that's what they're doing.
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telling each side trumpeting how it won. i think that was a pretty accurate appraisal. >> woodruff: how does the campaign change after tonight, mark? what do you see? >> well, i think the president knows that he's in with a heavy weight. i mean, whatever-- mitt romney went toe to toe with him. and there were no knockdowns, and the question is whether the judges and the referee, whether it was even, a draw, but nobody is saying that mitt romney is running out of there with his tail between his legs. i think they know they're in for a real struggle displiefl it's a pretty close race. christina you talked to the campaigns today. did this play out the way they described it? >> they were hoping to, certainly for governor romney, they really wanted to get people to actually look at what his specific policy plans were. he gets all this criticism saying he's not specific enough. that's why he threw out a lot numbers and some criticism was
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it might have seemed over prepare. they're paying attention to google search terms to buy a lot of those to send those messages. they have a lot of targeted web sites. both sides do. that's where they're trying to sort of look. obviously, the media is going to be a little bit of a referee. we'll see what plays tomorrow. and how people are looking for more information, and what youtube clips they decide to cut. ey have a lot of control and can send that out to their networks, too. >> woodruff: david, how does the campaign look after tonight? >> there will be a little more anxiety on the part of the democrats. i'm not sure it will dramatically change but a slight momentum shift in the favor of the republicans. >> i would add just one question that's going to nag every democrat is he kept it's president kept referring to mitt romney's $5 trillion tax cut instead of saying it's a 20% tax cut for everybody, including donald trump and mitt romney. and he just never got into the specifics. he got into the weeds and a lot
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of policy but never the specifics on where romney might be going with it. >> woodruff: we've enjoyed spending the even with you. we look forward to doing it again next week with the vice presidential debate. >> ifill: david's column is all written. griewd on that note, that does wrap up this coverage of our first debate between president obama and former governor mitt romney. we'll have live coverage as we suggested of the two remaining debates here on pbs as well as next thursday's vice presidential face-off at the center college in danville, kentucky. that will be moderated by martha radditz of abc news. >> ifill: can't wait. we'll see you then and again tomorrow night at our regular "newshour" time but our debate continues on our after-hours live stream. for now i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. thuf and good night.
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